Mexitrend Apparel Evokes Online Outrage with #WhiteGirlsWearMexican Marketing Campaign

Madalyn Mendoza, San Francisco Gate, April 13, 2018

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Utah-based online retailer Mexitrend has ignited a firestorm on Instagram and Twitter with a marketing strategy that uses white models with hashtags like #WhiteGirlsWearMexican to sell imported Mexican goods.

{snip} Esmeralda De Los Santos, a marketing professor at the University of the Incarnate Word, described the social media strategy as “patronizing and condescending.”

“It suggests a superiority of one group of people over another, which is why it’s distasteful,” she said.

Cultural appropriation is {snip} considered a form of exploitation when a dominant culture adopts the traits of a minority culture, especially for profit.

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That backlash is now hitting the owners of Mexitrend — Kimberly Claybaugh Jonas and her sister. The two have been called tone deaf for using phrases in their online ads that sound condescending to others, referring to Mexican nationals as “these people” and describing their homes in Mexico as “humble shacks.” The name of the company itself, Mexitrend, has elicited a passionate response for what some say reduces an entire culture to a passing fashion trend. One user that goes by the Instagram handle smOkedreams said “you don’t even understand how seriously ignorant you sound.”

“We’re selling to white people,” John Jonas, speaking on behalf of his wife Kim, said in an interview. “Fewer people would buy if the dress is on a Mexican model, it’s a lifestyle thing — you see people that are similar to you, that’s how everybody works.”

Jonas, who runs a company that helps other businesses outsource to the Philippines, said “people buy from people similar to themselves. We’re not racists. I have a guy from Mexico who eats with me every day.”

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Instagram users say the family, who are Mormon, suffer from “white savior complex.”

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“We fell in love with the beautiful goods sold in the markets. Every vendor BEGGED us to buy from them. Our hearts yearned for a way to help them,” they said in a March 26 post on Instagram. “Unfortunately, as we were set to begin this part of our efforts, we were viciously attacked and insulted with profanities towards us, our families and others who are supporting us.”

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A number of posts have been deleted and captions have been edited, but screen grabs capture some of the original content that spurred the discussion. They’re filled with upbeat messages, punctuated with a lot of heart Emojis. One Feb. 15 post that displays some hand-made blankets reads “We love this bright, fun-loving, happy, hard-working culture. We hope you can appreciate the beauty in it as much as we do!”

A few of the original posts still use hashtags like “#WhiteGirlsWearMexican,” which has evoked outrage online.

“WhitegirlswearMexican?!!! Seriously?!!! My culture is not a trend and this is beyond offensive,” commented Instagram user @_mireyya26.

Jonas reasoned that if Mexitrend doesn’t buy goods from Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexican families won’t benefit from the “thousands of dollars” his wife spends. Therefore, the “bullies” who are upset are detrimental to their own culture, he said.

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The blankets are sold on the website for $30 before a 25 percent discount code “LOVE25” is applied at the end of the sale.

He said the company brings authentic Mexican goods to people who otherwise aren’t traveling there.

“People like the culture, that’s cool, we’re enjoying it, we’re making it part of our own. We’re supporting the people who make them,” he said.

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